Col. Cresson and Gen. Calvet plan to capture Wellington's intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Ross. Gypsies are camping with the British, their women are causing a stir among the soldiers and Sharpe has settle...展开d into married life. Jane, however, is bored and looking to the future. She wonders how Sharpe will take to the social life back in England.
Col. Brand also arrives in the camp, he operates behind enemy lines and plans to destroy Calvet's powder supply. Sharpe is to act as his back up. They also need the services of explosives expert, Maj. Septimus Pyecroft. A war correspondant and poet, called Shelligton, has also arrived and becomes enamoured with Jane.
When Ross and Sharpe meet Pyecroft, he has a gypsy girl with him who was the only survivor from an attack on her family. In the camp, she recognises her family's horses among those belonging to Maj. Brand's men. Another gypsy girl, sets herself at Harris, but when he goes to her tent in the evening, he discovers her and her family dead. When he reports the murder, he finds himself chief suspect and is confined to camp. Sharpe asks him to watch over Jane while he is away.
Shellington accompanies Sharpe, but tires of war and is escorted back to camp. The murderers are uncovered and rounded up, and Sharpe also discovers there is a French spy in the camp.